Prue Leith is recalling a traumatic memory from her childhood.
In her new memoir, I'll Try Anything Once Leith, 82, opens up about her mother instructing her to drown a litter of newborn kittens, per The Huffington Post UK.
"My mother and I, then 11, had just drowned some kittens… and for weeks I imagined those poor dead creatures," wrote The Great Baking Show judge.
She continued, "Too many kittens was a frequent occurrence and there had come a day when my mother, unable to find homes for yet another litter, decided to drown the latest batch."
Leith added that she tried to stop her mother but instead was "met with a firm, 'Darling, it has to be done. They are only a few hours old. They will hardly know it's happening.' "
However, Leith said the small animals "fought like the devil for life" as she "held the bag under the water until the last kitten had stopped mewing."
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Speaking about why she decided to include the horrific story in her memoir, the chef told The Huffington Post it was a seminal moment in her childhood.
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"This happened in the early 1940′s, when I was 11 years old, being brought up on a farm in South Africa," she said in a statement to the outlet. "I wrote about it honestly in my book, as an 11-year-old it was an extremely traumatic experience, not one I would forget, however it is what happened 70 years ago."
"Thankfully today in the UK we have the choice of neutering our cats and have more options to home kittens, although sadly in some parts of the world it is still an issue."
A rep for Leith did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.